With over 20 years of industry experience I have come across some very nasty cowboys (and cowgirls) that don’t seem to grasp the simple premise of doing business – treat your customer right and they will come back for more.

Even after many ‘discussions’ on the subject it seems there are still plenty of web firms around that seem to want to grasp at every little handcuff they can.
I won’t go into the complex psychological desperation messages this sends out but, instead will offer some nuggets of information that will hopefully stop you getting ripped off, stressed out and ultimately lose everything, when it comes to getting your business set up online.

Sign up or sign out
It is of the utmost importance that everything is registered in your company name.
The reason being, if you fall out with your web guy, if they go bust or there’s an access issue, you will have full control over everything.
Don’t let the web guy register your domain on your behalf – it is very simple to do this yourself – they will register it in their name and you’ll be stuck.
I’ll recommend a few options, below, but of course, if you have your own preferences feel free to go with them, just be careful.

Get your own (domain):
First thing you need to do is register a domain name.
Ideally this would be the same as your company name and a .com – this isn’t always possible but for the sake of this article, let’s presume we have no naming issues.
I recommend using https://www.gandi.net for domains.

Get your own (host):
One element I always recommend is that you should register your domain and get your website hosted with different companies.
My reason for this is that if you have hassle with one, you can still move stuff around.
Recently 123Reg ‘decided’ to delete a load of business websites – domains, files, databases the lot!

I recommend Krystal for hosting.

Get your own (website):
Now you have your domain and hosting set up, you need to get the website built.
You have 2 choices – DIY or pay a professional.

DIY: Within your hosting package control panel you should be able to find either Fantastico or Softaculous – these are free “1 click install” portals allowing you to set a few preferences and install applications like WordPress etc with just a few clicks.
If you go this route, that’s cool but you will get a default install which might not necessarily be up to date. Not really as dramatic as it seems as this would simply be a starting point.

Go Pro: If you’re serious about maximising your online presence I would totally recommend getting a professional outfit to design and build for you BUT do your due diligence.
Get recommendations, check out their own website and ask for at least 3 recent clients that you can contact for a recommendation, check the firm at companies house. If they do not display company information – registered address, business number, VAT number – on their own website, walk away.

Always sign a contract (after your lawyer has read through it) and never pay more than 50% deposit – preferably with a card as you might be able to then dispute it later.
If you do choose this route, ensure everything is covered in a full brief, make sure both parties are 100% clear on what is expected, what’s to be delivered and when and make sure everything is in your name and that you have full access – the admin panel, files, database etc.
Ideally you should have a back-up sent to you each week/ month (if you’re on a maintenance contract) or at least once you’ve paid the remainder.

Like any major business transaction – do your due diligence, get everything in writing, make sure the supplier is as transparent as can be and, if any doubt creeps in, ask for help or advice.